Decennial Accreditation of UMD: Email from President Loh
April 6, 2017
Dear University of Maryland community,
This is the year of our mandatory decennial accreditation review by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSC). It focuses on the educational mission of the University.
Our last review was in 2007, on the eve of the Great Recession and the ensuing "new normal" (decreasing state funding and increasing tuition) that is reshaping American public higher education.
For the past two years, about 75 faculty, staff, and students labored for hundreds of hours to prepare a thoughtful and comprehensive 100-page self-study of our University, with 400 pages of data and analyses. The co-chairs of this herculean effort are Betsy Beise (Physics), Rebecca Ratner (Business) and Sharon La Voy (Institutional Research), under the leadership of Provost Mary Ann Rankin.
A copy of the self-study can be found at http://www.provost.umd.edu/MS17/campus/documents/index.html
This week, the MSC review team -- comprised of faculty, staff, provosts, and presidents of nine universities -- interviewed many groups on campus.
Yesterday, the review team presented publicly its findings and conclusions. The team's chair, president-emeritus Rod Erickson of Penn State University, delivered a laudatory report, stating that UMD met all the standards and requirements for re-accreditation. The report has many "commendations" and constructive "recommendations" for improvement. It has no "requirements" for corrective actions.
The written report will be made available to the campus when it arrives. MSC will make a formal decision on UMD's re-accreditation this summer.
A sample of the review's findings in its areas of evaluation:
Mission and ethics
As the state's flagship and original land-grant institution, UMD has a unique and important role in the State's system of higher education. UMD requires an appropriate degree of autonomy to better fulfill its mission. The review also commended UMD for the integrity of its policies and practices.
Vision and plan
UMD's 2007 strategic plan ("Higher Expectations") charts a road map for the future and the 2016 updated strategic plan ("Equal to the Best") addresses the new challenges of the post-Great Recession era. The review commended the strategic partnership between UMD and UMB to advance excellence.
UMD's faculty is of "high quality." The policies on professional track faculty are "exemplary." But the review recommended improved recruitment and retention of faculty of color.
Student learning and assessment
The review commended our new General Education curriculum; living-learning communities; programs in Shady Grove; and Student Affairs' support services. It deemed "exemplary" our assessment of student learning outcomes. It recommended that we develop a campus-wide strategy for online learning.
Planning and resources
The recommendations included developing a long-term funding plan for deferred maintenance and for IT infrastructure, as well as restructuring the budget model for today's fiscal realities. It commended UMD's on-going efforts at administrative modernization to provide improved services at lower cost, and to redirect savings to the institution's core missions.
Governance and administration
The review commended UMD's distinctive shared governance and the collegial working relationship with the administration.
This remarkably positive external review reflects our outstanding faculty, staff, and students. Your excellence makes this a remarkable University. On behalf of the University community, a special thank you to all who participated in this accreditation process.
Together, we have set a high bar for 2027.
Wallace D. Loh, President
Evaluation Team Visit: April 2-5, 2017
On April 2-5, 2017, the Middle States Evaluation Team will visit campus to complete its report regarding accreditation of the University.
Planning for the 2017 accreditation review began in 2014, when we were invited to be part of a "Collaboration Implementation Project," the first class of institutions that is using a revised set of Standards of Accreditation and Requirements for Affiliation. The new Standards focus on the same key areas as the older ones, but are reduced in number and significantly less duplicative.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, approximately 75 people organized in seven working groups carried out a comprehensive review of the university based on the 2014 Standards for Accreditation. Their work became the core of the Self Study Report. The self-study provides us with an opportunity to review changes that have taken place over the last decade, identify areas in which we as an institution excel, and set new goals for continuous improvement.